Sunday, 28 November 2010

Police Powers

Millions of us in Britain have websites registered under which is operated by Nominet. In December last year the e-crime specialists at the Metropolitan police (SOCA) succeeded in having 1,219 websites, that it believed were involved in counterfeiting, taken off the internet.  The courts weren't involved in this action and neither were webhosts.  The police approached Nominet directly and they complied with the request.  The police claimed that the sites involved were scams, either selling counterfeit goods or charging for goods that never arrived.  They said that most were using false contact details and were in fact based in China and other parts of Asia.

While webhosts will demand Court orders or warrants before disconnecting a site, Nominet did so merely at the request of the police.

Now SOCA want to formalise the arrangement with Nominet.  It proposes granting Nominet the power to shut down websites, if the police inform them that a site is breaking the law in some form or another.  Currently, Nominet has no actual obligation to take action against domains being used by criminals, in contrast to the registrars of the likes of .org and .biz.

Such a move would mark a massive extension of the authorities' powers to clamp down on illegal websites - and possibly those that the powers-that-be deem to be a thorn in their side.  Only two weeks ago, Fitwatch, a site dedicated to campaigning against what it sees as heavy-handed practices by police surveillance units, was taken down by its UK-based web hosting company JustHost, after a formal request by the Metropolitan police.  The site was accused of publishing guidance to students involved in the recent violent Millbank protests to escape detection by the police.

But, in a matter of days Fitwatch was back up and laughing in the face of the law, with a heap of extra publicity under its belt.  The site is now hosted in the US where its hosting company is beyond the jurisdiction of UK police.  With no specific powers to seize the site's domain name, Fitwatch could simply set up on the other side of the Atlantic and point the same domain name towards their new servers instead.

SOCA's new proposals, if accepted, would put an end to that, giving Nominet the power to grab back a name at the police's request and effectively increasing the powers of censorship wielded by the UK's law enforcement agencies.

I must agree with Guido.  'Democratic open societies don't let the police decide what is right and wrong'.  It's reported that the Westminster government has issued a DA-notice (as they are now known) upon the forthcoming Wikileaks information.  One person is decidedly unhappy and I should think hundreds of thousands will join him in protest.

Meantime, today's Herald reports 'Kenny MacAskill is being savaged over porn for prisoners'.  The Scottish Prison Service have changed the specification for their new TVs, because: "The phasing out of the current analogue TV signal and the switchover to digital meant there was a European requirement for all new sets to have digital tuner".  Asked if the content would be restricted to a central feed, the SPS spokesman added: "Those days are over."

Richard Baker, the Labour justice spokesman, said the new development was another black mark against Kenny MacAskill.  He said: "Prison is not supposed to be a home away from home.  The public will be furious at the thought of offenders being allowed to watch hundreds of Freeview channels of their choice on brand new TVs."

Who introduced televisions into Scottish prisons?  Yes, it was Labour in 1999.

The best thing Mr MacAskill could do is insists upon the cancellation of these new televisions and tell Mr Baker that the public have been furious since 1999 knowing that prisoners have personal television in their cells.


Joe Public said...

Would hardened criminals be interested in 'soft' porn?

If so, so what?

CrazyDaisy said...


in the twisted sickness that we call modern UK there is little stopping these power crazed gits from abusing the power and close down legit sites using the statutes, because they challenge free speech and the corporations; take the abuse of terror laws to stop n search and pervert the truth.

The Union is a joke and Scotland will be damaged by this, look at the latest Calman minus from Newsnet. Scotland needs to wise up and get Independent fast otherwise this callsign will jump ship :(


subrosa said...

Erm Joe, if you don't know... ;)

subrosa said...

CD, delighted to hear from you. It is further destruction of our freedom indeed.

I've read the latest from Newsnet. It's on my Take Your Pick for tomorrow.

selsey.steve said...

The request by SOCA was illegal, it exceeded their powers which are only the powers of the Police.
For JustHost to comply was an abrogation of their duty to resist this sort of pressure until so ordered by a Court of Law.
There can be no "formalisation" of such an "agreement" between these two parties, it is ILLEGAL.
The Police cannot, should not and must not ever be allowed to dictate who can and who cannot speak about anything without taking their case before a Court of Law. The Police are not permitted to pursue this sort of action without the backing of what is sometimes laughingly called an independent Judiciary.
I speak as an ex-Police Officer, one who was properly schooled in what the majesty of the Law truly meant.

CrazyDaisy said...

Court de facto or Court de jure?!

I refuse to go to court they have been shown to be nothing more than Corporate Entities, wake up they are only collecting revenue from statutes.

Can recommend theantiterrorist or a visit to Dun & Bradstreet. Too much state interference & "Policy" Constables, as they are not officers, are on oath to protect the human beings in society within the Uk. SOCA indeed is empire building.

Beware, research and save yourselves from being ripped off...


ps a pleasure Madame x

subrosa said...

Steve, thanks for that information. I tried to find that out prior to posting this but couldn't.

I appreciate your contribution.

subrosa said...

A few links wouldn't go amiss Sir.

A pleasure as always CD. x I do trust it's not snowing where you are or I would believe the climate is changing as it usually doesn.

12" here now and still falling.

Apogee said...

Hi SR, A very interesting article, as also are the comments, seems the police are using bluff,and as an unintended consequence, gave Fitwatch extra publicity, as well as showing others the way !
As for TV for crims, how long before some of them sue for human rights abuse for being tortured by being forced to watch the 'programs' being broadcast.
Now off to have a look at wikileaks. You know, if governments were honest and for the people instead of themselves, these leaks would not be needed, but it says a lot about the security that was bought for ,by now ,billions of dollars and how effective it wasn't.And what the Governments are up to in the names of their people.

Radio Free Britain said...

We were shut down last year after a request because we were supposedly running it as a business.

All we did was advertise an independent group of service families T-shirt as a favour to bring the troops home and the money was used to send parcels to Afghanistan.


subrosa said...

I'd forgotten you had problems last year Vendetta. It must be horrendous when that happens and the amount of work involved having to prove your innocence. There's something badly wrong with the police when someone's guilty without any proof.

JuliaM said...

" There's something badly wrong with the police..."

You know, that sentence makes just as much sense when it ends there.

subrosa said...

Aye it does Julia.

selsey.steve said...

From the SOCA website:
"SOCA officers can have the combined powers of police, customs and immigration officers. We also have a substantial range of tools and legislation to target criminals with – everything from the ability to recover assets through to Serious Crime Prevention Orders."
None of these 'powers', neither individually nor combined, permits the Agency to operate outside existing legal frameworks. They MUST go through a Court of Law in order to close a web site, to seize assets from criminal enterprise or to have a Serious Crime Prevention Order made. They CANNOT perform ANY action of a punitive nature, that is the duty of the Courts. The Agency can enforce the orders of the Courts but it cannot empower itself to enforce any punitive action.
Again from the SOCA website:

Officers' Powers

SOCA officers undertake a wide range of roles, some of which require powers. The Director General is responsible for designating officers' powers and has a legal duty under Section 43 of the Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 to ensure that only staff who meet the criteria of suitability, training and capability are designated with powers. These can be one or more of the following:

a) a person having the powers of a constable, England and Wales, Scotland and /or Northern Ireland;

b) a person having the customs powers of an officer of Revenue and Customs;

c) a person having the powers of an immigration officer.

The Act of Parliament under which SOCA came into being granted them no more powers than the three agencies whose individual powers they may assume.

selsey.steve said...

More on SOCA's 'powers' here:

Please note that every Order or other punitive action can only be made by a Court. SOCA can apply for an Order to be made, it cannot initiate one of its own.

banned said...

Good stuff selsey.steve, ta.
In any case how can SOCA (which I thought was being cuttbacked) enforce a D notice when the wikileaks stuff is being published all over the world?

Weekend Yachtsman said...

It was always to be expected that the authorities would find some way to shut down free speech on the net.

The MSM are bought and paid for by the Political Class, of course, and they are not about to allow such an obvious loophole to flourish.

We just need to find some other way to talk amongst ourselves about things our betters don't want us to talk about.

Currently, what that might be is a mystery to me, but the ingenuity of people will always outrun the lumbering Leviathan.

Onwards and upwards!

subrosa said...

We could be returning to 100 years ago WY, when people had small printing presses tucked away in basements.

Seriously that's what worries me though. It seems less and less people want to talk about important matters.

selsey.steve said...

The 'D Notice', more properly the Defence Advisory notice is not enforceable, it is an Advisory Notice only. From this site:

"The DA Notice system is a voluntary code that provides guidance to the British media on the publication or broadcasting of national security information."

The DA Notice is a 'polite' request to the media, not an order.

subrosa said...

I did say DA notice in the post steve.

Don't you see the missing word there?

Just in case, it's a big BUT. ie If you don't conform we'll ensure you never work in the media again.

No, this DA business is just a politically correct version of a D notice I think.

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